Body mass index and age at natural menopause: an international pooled analysis of 11 prospective studies

Dongshan Zhu, Hsin Fang Chung, Nirmala Pandeya, Annette J. Dobson, Diana Kuh, Sybil L. Crawford, Ellen B Gold, Nancy E. Avis, Graham G. Giles, Fiona Bruinsma, Hans Olov Adami, Elisabete Weiderpass, Darren C. Greenwood, Janet E. Cade, Ellen S. Mitchell, Nancy F. Woods, Eric J. Brunner, Mette Kildevæld Simonsen, Gita D. Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Current evidence on the association between body mass index (BMI) and age at menopause remains unclear. We investigated the relationship between BMI and age at menopause using data from 11 prospective studies. A total of 24,196 women who experienced menopause after recruitment was included. Baseline BMI was categorised according to the WHO criteria. Age at menopause, confirmed by natural cessation of menses for ≥ 12 months, was categorised as < 45 years (early menopause), 45–49, 50–51 (reference category), 52–53, 54–55, and ≥ 56 years (late age at menopause). We used multinomial logistic regression models to estimate multivariable relative risk ratios (RRRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) for the associations between BMI and age at menopause. The mean (standard deviation) age at menopause was 51.4 (3.3) years, with 2.5% of the women having early and 8.1% late menopause. Compared with those with normal BMI (18.5–24.9 kg/m2), underweight women were at a higher risk of early menopause (RRR 2.15, 95% CI 1.50–3.06), while overweight (1.52, 1.31–1.77) and obese women (1.54, 1.18–2.01) were at increased risk of late menopause. Overweight and obesity were also significantly associated with around 20% increased risk of menopause at ages 52–53 and 54–55 years. We observed no association between underweight and late menopause. The risk of early menopause was higher among obese women albeit not significant (1.23, 0.89–1.71). Underweight women had over twice the risk of experiencing early menopause, while overweight and obese women had over 50% higher risk of experiencing late menopause.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)699-710
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • Age at menopause
  • Obesity
  • Prospective studies
  • Underweight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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